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New Venture Firm Focuses on Impact Fintech, Spins Off from Omidyar Network

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The Financial Inclusion Initiative at Omidyar Network announced it has spun off to launch Flourish, a new venture firm focused on backing entrepreneurs whose innovations are helping people across the globe to capture economic opportunity and achieve financial health.

The firm launches with a global team of 18 professionals and an existing $200 million portfolio across US and emerging markets, as well as an additional $300 million at its disposal over the next five years. Flourish is an evergreen fund backed by Pam and Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay.

“We believe that capital, when deployed to create individual opportunity and change sectors, can shape a more inclusive economy—where everyone does better. That is at the core of Flourish’s mission,” said Tilman Ehrbeck, one of the three managing partners leading the new venture.

“We have made remarkable progress in bringing people into the formal financial system, but that has not necessarily translated into better economic outcomes—that is the industry’s next challenge.”

In the past decade, more than one billion people have been financially included. Yet, in many emerging markets, more than half of working-age adults still live and work in the informal economy, often reluctantly self-employed without adequate resources or safety nets. In the US, the majority of households are not financially healthy, often living from paycheck-to-paycheck.

“As an industry, we have a better understanding of people’s complex relationships with money than ever before, and technology is creating new models for enhancing earnings, protecting against risk, and building wealth,” said Arjuna Costa, managing partner at Flourish.

“To reshape economic systems and create opportunity for vulnerable people around the world, we invest in innovative technologies that give them more control over their financial lives.”

Flourish’s global portfolio includes more than 40 fintech companies helping low- and middle-income households and small businesses to improve their financial standing.

Investment themes include digital-only, mobile-first challenger banks, including Chime (recently valued at $1.5 billion), Aspiration, Neon, Albo, and Tez; new insurance models, such as MicroEnsure, Kin, and Pula; and asset optimization tools, including United Income and Scripbox.

In addition, Flourish is pushing new frontiers with its investments. For example, Steady connects flexible workers in the US with gig economy jobs, helping them increase their earning opportunities, while optimizing their skills and available time.

Juntos is re-personalizing the banking relationship in the digital age, creating AI-powered conversations over mobile in 20 languages across the globe.

“We back entrepreneurs with winning business models to responsibly harness the power of technology to improve their customers’ lives,” said managing partner Emmalyn Shaw. “Our portfolio companies represent a new generation of purpose-driven innovators, who believe in market-based solutions to empower individuals, and are pushing the boundaries to deliver on that belief.”

As a sector-change oriented firm, Flourish will also continue to support thought leaders in financial services, as well as forward-thinking regulators and policymakers. This work will build on existing engagements with ecosystem builders, that range from CFSI and FinRegLab in the US, to Alliance for Financial Inclusion and R2A Accelerator across emerging markets.

Flourish is a venture of The Omidyar Group. The firm has offices in Silicon Valley, Washington DC, and London, and covers India through a partnership with Omidyar Network India.

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E-Financial

CBN Predicts 3 pct GDP Growth in 2019

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The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, expects the economy to pick up in 2019, forecasting a gross domestic product growth of 3 percent, up from 1.9 percent recorded last year, its governor Godwin Emefiele said.

Emefiele said the bank would maintain its tight monetary stance in 2019, and sees inflation at 11.31 percent in February and rising to 12 percent this year before moderating.

The governor, who is set to step down in June, told an economic conference in Lagos that the economy would see more growth as the recovery is becoming self-sustaining.

Economic growth has been recovering since the third quarter of 2016, when the recession bottomed out. Higher oil prices helped Nigeria exit that contraction. In 2018, the economy grew at its fastest pace since the recession.

Emefiele expects volatility in the crude oil market to put pressure on the currency but the central bank would maintain its stance on exchange rate over the next year.

He said more than $6 billion had flowed into the local bond market since last month’s presidential election as foreign investors piled into debt to lock in yields as high as 14 percent.

Bond investors had been worried elections would turn violent, not about who won. President Muhammadu Buhari has favoured a strong and stable currency, which bondholders hope will continue.

Buhari won a second term in charge of Africa’s biggest economy in February, defeating his pro-business rival Atiku Abubakar who had touted privatizations and float the currency as some of the ways to grow the economy.

 

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Andrew Dell, Ex-CEO of HSBC Africa Now Senior Advisor to Asoko Insight

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Asoko Insight, Africa’s leading corporate information platform, is delighted to announce the appointment of Andrew Dell as Senior Advisor.

 

As part of its 2019 plan to introduce leading-edge digital tools for global banks to identify and onboard African companies, Asoko Insight has brought on board Andrew Dell as Senior Advisor.

 

African banks and global investors endure significant challenges when it comes to the efficiency of industry sizing, lead generation, on-boarding, and KYC processes. In his role, Andrew will help expand Asoko’s Verify Africa platform among banks and private equity firms active across the continent, supporting their objectives to reduce due diligence costs and grow their pan-African footprint.

 

Rob Withagen, CEO, Asoko Insight said:  “Andrew’s experience and track record are second to none and we’re thrilled to have him on board. He brings a robust knowledge of the KYC and compliance issues that African banks face and which Asoko aims to overcome.”

 

Andrew Dell, Senior Advisor, Asoko Insight said, “Sourcing reliable information to identify, verify and onboard corporate clients across Africa is time-consuming and expensive. Asoko’s purpose-built solutions are addressing the challenge by providing enterprise-access to instant, accurate and up-to-date information on the continent’s leading growth markets, businesses and the people who run them.”

 

 

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Founder Open Vector to Address Nigerian Bankers on Open Banking Opportunities

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Carlos Figueredo, CEO and founder of Open Vector, a professional consultancy firm founded in 2017 with its forte in open banking, PSD2, GDPR and payments, he has consented to headline the Open Banking Masterclass, one of the key attractions of Lagos Fintech Week on April 23, 2019, in Lagos-Nigeria, West Africa.

According to the statement signed by the chairman organizing committee, Dr. Yele Okeremi, Lagos Fintech Week [LFW] is an invigorating week of distinct FinTech events that delivers exciting discussions, stimulating demos and insightful debates. “It is scheduled for April 23-26, 2019 at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos”, he said.

He explained that Open Banking is a trend that is poised to transform how banking is done over the next decade. While only a few countries have started or are in the process of starting. The traction is so strong and it is expected that this trend will become dominant in five years.

“Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind, as we have had various conversations whether we should have open banking, how we should do it, and what are the benefits. This is why we are bringing an expert of Carlos’ status who has wealth of experience and fundamentals of the needs for Open Banking to lead the Masterclass at Lagos Fintech Week in April”.

He pointed out that Figueredo is a recognised open banking SME with over 20 years’ experience in payments, SWIFT, SEPA and PSD2 and started open banking in 2016 as the Head of Data Standards for the UK Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE).

Dr. Okeremi said that Figueredo oversaw the ISO 20022 based standard development and the relevant technical elements needed to integrate it across the array of product-based API’s for OBIE, which was the first initiative globally in the banking sector, or any other sector, to have done so.

“In quarter three of 2018 Open Vector was granted by the British Embassy of Mexico City and the Prosperity Fund a component of phase 1 of the Fintech Law delivery. Carlos worked alongside the CNBV (National Banking and Securities Commission) to develop and implement the data standards, which will go live in April 2019.

 

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